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Baseball preview: Pitching depth powers Westmont baseball

The 2012 baseball season wasn’t one to write home about for Westmont, but things are shaping up to be different this spring.

WESTMONT — The 2012 baseball season wasn’t one to write home about for Westmont, but things are shaping up to be different this spring.

With an all-conference player and team MVP, five members of the pitching staff and starters in the middle of the defense all returning, Westmont has a chance to move past the struggles of last season.

“We’re really excited about this team,” coach D.J. Cocks said. “We have a very talented team.”

Charlie Donovan, a University of Michigan recruit, is a triple threat as a shortstop, starting pitcher and hitter who batted .440 last year. Brothers Greg and Jean Pietrzak add depth to the pitching staff. Greg Pietrzak led the team last year with three wins and a 1.34 ERA. Jean Pietrzak had team highs of 74 strikeouts and 62.2 innings pitched. He also led the way with 18 RBIs.

“By far the strength of our team is pitching,” Cocks said. “We have three aces, which is just unbelievable. I’ve been coaching 10 years and I’ve never had three pitchers like this.”

The pitching isn’t just front loaded. Cocks said that of the 17 players on the roster, 14 have experience pitching at some point, including John Kelly and Zach Moran, who both saw action last spring. That depth should become apparent when the Sentinels start playing games. They’ve had two canceled and nine rescheduled, so the games will come fast and furious once the season starts.

“When we start playing every day, that depth is going to be a key for us,” Cocks said.

The defense should also be a strength with Donovan (shortstop), Kelly (third base), Robert Kokoszka (catcher), Jean Pietrzak (center field) and Ryan Schlicher (second base and shortstop) returning to key positions. The key will be pushing runs across the plate.

“The key to our success is our offense,” Cocks said. “We lost a lot of 2-0 or one-run games because we didn’t give our pitchers any run support. We probably lost 10 games that were one- or two-run games. If we score runs, we’re going to be hard to beat with our pitching and the defense behind it.”

Meet the Sentinels

D.J. Cocks

2012 record: 9-19 (7-9 Interstate Eight Conference)

Top players:

Charlie Donovan   so.   P/SS

John Kelly   jr.   P/3B

Robert Kokoszka   sr.   C

Robert Moran   jr.   P/RF/2B

Greg Pietrzak   jr.   P/1B

Jean Pietrzak   sr.   P/CF

Ryan Schlicher   sr.   2B/SS

Next game: 11 a.m. Thu., March 28 vs. East Aurora

1.34  Greg Pietrzak's team-leading ERA last year. He also led with a 3-1 record on the mound.

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